Well arrival in Chile meant no more altitude excuses when trekking or doin any kinda exercise, but could blame it on the 30+degree heat. Every time you take a breath it dries up any kinda moisture in your mouth, it is so hot and so dry. the atacama desert, one of the driestest places on earth, 50mm of rainfall a year!
So at least, found some real sun, yippeeeee........
Decision of the day was not to do the traditional tour to Valley de la luna(moon valley- known as the heart of the atacama desert, where the sunsets are renowned for being spectacular), but go there on mountain bikes. Shocked at the prices of everything, just the knee jerk reaction to leaving muchas cheapness Bolivia, where everything cost a pound. Now accomodation is $9, aahhhhhhh...
After much walking around the town, we ended up at the Hostal Antai, 2 blocks from the main street. We set off on bikes(assured by the company that we would not need lights on the return as lit by the moon!) Every 2 or 3 pedals we were gasping for water, every breath you took would just take every spot of moisture from your mouth. Must be somethin to do wit da desert air!
After a cycle to the local death valley, where we spotted lots of local sandboarders, and where we keep sliding in the sand, we headed to Valle de la Luna. First part of the road was great, perfectly tarmaced, it was great, next 6km , was hell. Suspension in the bikes was non existent, there were bumps where it felt like you were gettin an electric shock thru your whole body. And still the desert air sucking every bit of moisture from your mouth, but we eventually got to the entrance gate, paid oor $1500(/10 to get GBP), and realised it was all uphill, slippin n sliding thru the occasional bits of sand(put there as traps to slow me down Im sure). Ended up walking up blamin the sun on my apparent lack of fitness......
Then arrived at the ampitheatre and the hugest sand dune Id ever seen(wot wed came to see). Got ourselves rid of the bikes and climbed up the sand dune, obeying instructions and not climbing on it, but afterwards seeing about 100 people wandering along the top of it, no happy!
And we waited for sunset, for the promised red n purple colours that changed the whole landscape.
8pm and it all started to happen, sky turned cool colours, ref to pics, didnt see the promised red n purple but it was pretty impressive all the same.
Rachel, gettin stressed about the upcoming return trip in the dark, got us all back on the road. With just reason, as there was no moon, no light, and about 14k to get back to San Pedro. Thot the prison visit was dangerous, had nothing on our return journey back to the office where we was gonna give the girl hell. 40 mins later, bein occassionally lit by the odd car headlight, we were nearly back in town in one piece, well at least me n Rach were, no sign of Daan. After a minute or two he was spotted, on the way up the hill, turns out goin over the bridge,where it was impossible to see anything at all(I had slowed to crawling speed),he had went flying over it and into barbed wire, ripping his trousers and cutting his legs. After havin a wee chuckle at his misfortune, we got back to the office and gave her hell, well at least I did, with Rachel and Daan shaking their heads and looking angry at the girl, never got an apology after all that effort!
Went to a local pub, where we scoffed free popcorn and drank Chilean wine.
Following day, proceeded to spend all bar 5000 of my Chilen pesos on presents, and had the lastest lunch wit ma mate Rachel, where we were all choosing stuff on price(due to lack of plata),rather than taste. Worked oot great tho, 3 course lunch for $5000, and 2 4 1 fresh juices at $2000 a pop, happy days.
Then Rachel discovered her planned Friday departure to Salta, Argentina wasnt gonna happen, every seat on every bus this end of Chile was full full full. Plan B suggested by shop owner was to go to customs, ask if there were any lorries goin to Argentina, that she could go with. So off we set to find local customs, which appeared to be in the middle of a construction site. Think that put her off, and mind was changed, Santiago, 24 hrs, then Mendoza, 8hrs, then Buenos Aires, 16hrs would get her back to Pete in the original time scale so that it where she at. Happiliy Daan off to Santiago as well so the 2 of them set off on the 1930 to Santiago.
And thats the end of me n Rachels big adventure, sad to see her go, as she went south in Chile(as opposed to east her original plan), and I went north to Arica, then over the border to Tacna where a 2hr flight would take me back to Lima.
(SPOOKY-Just puttin pics on website,and pic 666 was the witches market, whats the chances of that!)